DETROIT — Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs wasn’t surprised or the least bit concerned when offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski dialed up a risky pass play in the late going of Sunday’s game at Ford Field.
With three minutes left and the Vikings protecting a five-point lead against the Detroit Lions, Stefanski decided to have Kirk Cousins throw a deep ball. Diggs beat one-on-one coverage on the 66-yard play, and Dalvin Cook scored the clinching touchdown two plays later to finish the Vikings’ 42-30 victory.
“Coach Stefanski always come up to me and says, ‘You’re not scared are you?’ as a joke,” said Diggs, who caught seven passes for 142 yards. “In that situation, I always expect him to do everything he can to put us in a position to win. In that moment, he took a shot.”
Rookie receiver Bisi Johnson had a good feeling about the outcome when he lined up.
“It was incredible,” he said. “I heard the play call before it happened, and I knew Steff was one-on-one. Any time Stef’s one-on-one, it’s his ball.”
Normally, a lot of throws come Adam Thielen’s way. But Thielen was forced to the sidelines after making a 25-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter and crashing into the wall beyond the end zone.
While Diggs — who caught three touchdown passes in last week’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles — made the biggest catch of the game, the Vikings got contributions from some unheralded receivers. Johnson, a seventh-round draft pick, caught his first career touchdown in the opening half on a 1-yard pass from Cousins.
Johnson made four receptions while stepping into Thielen’s usual role.
“I was confident in my abilities the whole time,” he said. “I knew I had a chance to be on this team and there was really no doubt in my mind that I was going to be where I’m at right now. They put trust in me to be wide receiver three. I know I’m the next guy, so I prepare myself every week, and I was just confident.”
The tight ends, who were essentially ignored during the first six games, saw their roles expand Sunday, on a day when the Vikings totaled 503 yards of offense. Kyle Rudolph made a season-high five receptions for 58 yards and notched his first touchdown of the season. Irv Smith Jr. also had five catches for 60 yards.
Rudolph has been content to clear holes for Dalvin Cook and protect Cousins but noted that with greater distribution of the touches came the Vikings’ best offensive day of the season.
“We’ve always known that we have a ton of talent on offense. It was just a matter of using it and getting everybody involved, and that’s not easy,” Rudolph said. “I think you go back and look at the last two games and now we’re really starting to do that. We’ve got to continue to get better.
Even fullback C.J. Ham, a native of Duluth, got a play called for him, as Cousins found him on a 5-yard score, Ham’s first career touchdown reception.
“What an effort,” Thielen said. “It was fun to be a part just watching a lot of guys being involved.”